Matcha Chocolate from Adagio Teas

Many of asked me my opinion on Adagio Teas’ matcha. Sadly in a moment of weakness, I opted for Adagio Teas’ Matcha Chocolate flavor instead of a traditional matcha. Likely I was hungry for chocolate and matcha with chocolate pairs great together.

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I have the 2oz tin here, so plenty of Matcha Chocolate lattes! Unlike some other flavored matchas, this Matcha Chocolate is just matcha and the flavoring. Some other sellers add sugar or coconut to add some thickness.

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Matcha Chocolate Powder

Adagio Tea’s Matcha Chocolate smells a little chocolatey. The powder color isn’t anything to write home about as it is fairly washed out.

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Tasting of Adagio Teas’ Matcha Chocolate

Traditional Preparation: I used 2 grams and about 4oz/ 120ml of 160F/ 71c water.

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With flavored matchas traditional style isn’t the intended application, but let’s try anyway. Matcha Chocolate whisked beautifully foamy. The scent is lightly chocolatey. Matcha Chocolate tastes light cocoa powder with a heavier flavor of mowed lawn. The chocolate doesn’t stand out here and the matcha quality is just so-so at this price point.

Latte: This took a few attempts, but go a little heavier on the matcha powder for best results. I used 3 grams for around a total of 5oz/150ml/ of liquids. I whisked the matcha in a bit of 160f / 71c water, then added milk and used an electric frother to finish.

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The flavor is sweet milk chocolate with a soft grassy background of matcha. There is a pretty good balance of chocolate to matcha, each isn’t over powering the other. Unfortunately, some sort of sweetener is needed, without it, the matcha latte wasn’t very chocolatey, similar to traditional style.

Iced: Today I learned that you shouldn’t free pour your matcha into a bottle. I wanted 3 grams of matcha and got 7, and there was no pouring back as the bottom of the bottle was wet. That said, this looks hella dark than it should be.

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Iced, the flavor is mostly grassy matcha with a slightly bittersweet chocolate flavor. I was hoping the cold temperature the chocolate would come out without the need for sweetener or milk. I added some agave to make the chocolate flavor pop, which helped. With agave and without milk, this matcha is okay but goes into a watery chocolate territory, making me think I am eating sad diet food.


Adagio Teas’ Matcha Chocolate would be perfect for people who want flavored matcha lattes. It has a great balance of matcha and chocolate, so optimal for someone who wants to taste both. I also had great results adding Matcha Chocolate to my protein smoothies. Some might tolerate Matcha Chocolate without milk, but the best application is with milk and a sweetener.

Adagio Teas sells their matcha in 2oz/ 57 gram sizes, which is pretty big. You likely should buy their sample size first or and know you can drink 2oz of matcha in a couple months, though with delicious matcha chocolate lattes that shouldn’t be too difficult. At price point, Adagio Tea’s Matcha Chocolate is a bit more money than other flavored matcha specialists like Matcha Outlet (previously named Red Leaf Tea) with fewer options, but if you order often from Adagio Teas, they are a fine option.

(tea provided for review | affiliate links)

June 2017 White2Tea club Gushu Sheng Puer

For a week all I’ve been drinking is instant tea, tea bags, and stash old oolong to get my tea stash down. I haven’t had amazing tea in a week, which feels like ages. This month’s White2Tea club is a 2017 Mengsong gushu raw puer 50 gram cake, a tea club exclusive. Last time we had a little cake it was hella good, so I am looking forward to drinking this tea.

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Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

The 2017 Tea Club Gushu cake weighs 50 grams on the button! Such a cute little cake! The scent is strongly floral and delicious.

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I went full out on this tea, steeping with boiling water and a ratio of 1 gram to 14 ml per vessel size. After a rinse, the hot leaf smells like fruity cigars. Darn it, the Tea Owl nabbed the silver cup before I could.

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Tasting of June 2017 White2Tea Club Gushu Cake

First and Second Infusion: White2Tea Club Gushu’s flavor starts off soft, with notes of tangy stone fruit and dull floral. The flavor hits strongly in the aftertaste, with an under ripe tangy apricot skin with a milky base. There is a hint of bitterness in the mouth, but not dry. The body is slippery and heavy, making this a great sip.

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I stopped drinking for 20 minutes, as I got caught up in looking for yarn and playing video games, and realized the aftertaste still held on that long! My mouth feels like I brushed with flowers.

Third and Fourth Infusion: Either I got used to the bitterness, or it settled. This tea is smooth! White2Tea Club Gushu is brightly fruity stone fruit, creamy base, nicely thick, and sappy. The aftertaste is cleaning up and building to a big bushy white floral flavor.

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Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Infusion: Full power! White2Tea Club Gushu is potently fruity, citrus, floral in flavor, with a heavy body and drooling effect. What makes this tea good is the aftertaste. I have been sipping and waiting as most of the pleasure is that flavor over the actual drinking. The texture is still amazing and thick.

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Eighth, Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Infusion: June 2017 White2Tea Club Gushu is starting to overcook and get bitter. The sides of my mouth are dry like squeaky spinach boiled to death but taste delicious floral fruity. I am at the point to just slam the tea down to get the bitter out of the way, to then ride the aftertaste for 15 minutes. The longer I wait, the more the bitterness goes away in my mouth leaving that thick fruity perfume. I am feeling very wired, inspired, yet chill, so I got a balanced feel.

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I tried a final infusion and it was too much bad bitter to just abuse the aftertaste, so I ended it here. The final aftertaste was quite dry and vegetal, like I followed up my dental routine by flossing with the leaf.

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The absolute best part of the 2017 June White2Tea Club Gushu is the aftertaste and texture – it is a real treat to have such a good tea. You need to sip and ride it out, this is not a daily drinker chugger. Set an afternoon or share with friends, and have an infusion while you reflect on random things or work on something calming. I am up to my eyeballs in crocheting owl bear feet, so I had time to just sip a bit and enjoy the tea. This was a great opportunity to have some excellent quality tea.


Diversitea Sri Lanka Black teas – Taste the Rainbow

I got this fun Diversitea Sri Lanka black tea set from the recent World Tea Expo. I love the packaging – the rainbow is attractive, encouraging me to try the teas despite me not being big into tea bags and western style black teas. But also the opportunity to taste various regions of Sri Lanka seemed educationally fun. Each box has 25 tea bags, so 175 tea bag total.

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Sri Lanka tea descriptions and tea region map

Steeping Method: I used 1 tea bag, steeped in 250ml of boiling water for 3 minutes. Easy peasy. 200F/93C would likely be a better temperature to steep these black teas at due to astringency.

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Tasting of Diversitea Sri Lanka Black Tea Collection

Nuwara Eliya

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Nuwara Eliya sips in bright, fruity, and tangy, like pears and raspberries. Interestingly, this tea isn’t woody or earthy. The aftertaste is a dry fruity, and leaving a scratchy feeling in the mouth. The body is on the thin side. I agree on the packaging that Nuwara Eliya would make a great iced or cold brew tea due to the fruity profile. I found this tea pretty easy to drink, due to notes and refreshing quality.

Uda Pussellawa

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Uda Pussellawa has an pleasing flavor of oak wood, touch of rose and tangy raisins. The aftertaste is brisk wood and fresh raspberries. This tea has a good depth of flavor and plenty of interest, though also astringent feeling left in the mouth. Uda Pussellawa is a fun, complex tea. I think drinking on its own would be best, but it would also do well iced or cut with fruit.


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Dimbula is nicely bold, full flavored, smooth, malty, with a bit of blackcurrant notes. The aftertaste is fruity and sweet, continuing the blackcurrant flavor. Dimbula is also heavy on the astringency, leaving my cheeks itchy. I can see Darjeeling lovers enjoying Dimbula, as well as milk tea drinkers as the boldness would go well.


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Uva tastes drastically different than the rest. It is refreshing with various mint notes and heavy aroma. As you sip, you taste the mint notes as the scent wafts up the sinus. Some sips meld more with menthol with a tobacco note, without any smoke. The aftertaste is on the dry side, but not as bad as the previous teas. I quite like Uva as it tastes unique and the strong relaxing aroma is satisfying. I went out of my way to try Uva iced and it is fantastically refreshing, minty, and easy to drink.


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Kandy is bold, smooth, and rich, with notes of oaks and honey. The astringency is mild to start, but builds up quickly leaving my tongue feeling like jerky. I found Kandy responded the best to silver as the notes became quite crisp. I think Kandy would make the best milk tea out of the lot.


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Sabaragamuwa is also very bold and rich in flavor, similar to Kandy. However, it is fruity with notes of fresh blackberries and oak. I find the flavor attractive as the combination of bold, oak, and blackberries is delicious. There is also dryness in this tea, sinking low into jaw. Sabaragamuwa would be great with milk. I also tried Sabaragamuwa iced and it is also came out well for a bold, fruity black.


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Ruhuna is the fun tea of the set as it is from a region of Sri Lanka that isn’t known for tea, but sports high elevation. Ruhuna is also another bold tea, similar tasting like Sabaragamuwa, but more fruity blackberry and creamy. This tea is the sweetest of the bunch due to the fruity flavor, and has a good creamy body. No surprise, Ruhuna is also fairly astringent, making my mouth feel sand papery. Ruhuna would also be great milk or iced.


The Diversitea Sri Lanka Tea collection was fun to explore. I liked that all the teas were distinctly different, yet similar. What I noticed by the 7th tea was how working the rainbow got me from the lightest to the most boldest of teas.

I enjoyed Sabaragamuwa, Ruhuna, and Uva the most – those three stood out for bold flavor, complex fruity notes, or being completely unique. All the teas were not bad, I didn’t dislike any of them. What I didn’t like personally was the astringency and lack of thick texture in all of them. This style of western, brisk, dry tea isn’t something I reach for. I also don’t know if the dryness or lack of body was due to tea bags, it would of been cool to have this collection in loose leaf. Either way, drinking this tea collection gave me a base to launch from if I wanted to explore better quality Sri Lanka teas further. I wished this set was a smaller, say 10 instead of 25 tea bags each?

So, where to find this Diversitea Sri Lanka Tea collection? I google searched, and I have the source of the Sri Lanka Tea Board – Pure Ceylon. I only found a single hit of someone selling it on ebay. I figure over time this set will get picked up by other tea sellers if it was whole sale – the packaging is nice and exploration of Sri Lanka tea regions is fun.

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(tea snagged for free at the World Tea Expo press room, so tea provided for review?)


2017 Spring Silver Needle White Tea from Floating Leaves Tea

Last year’s Floating Leaves Tea Silver Needle didn’t catch my attention, however with just seeing the leaves of 2017’s batch got me excited. I was visiting Floating Leaves Tea and the owner, Shiuwen, showed me the bulk bag of the new 2017 Spring Silver Needle. The fuzz that was flying around was crazy. You probably need to wear a dust mask if you are going to deal with this Silver Needle for an extended amount of time. I had a sample in store, but forgot to buy some. On my next visit I bought an ounce to play with.

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Dry Leaf and Steeping Method

SO MUCH FUZZ! Scooping out tea makes fur flying like any furry friend in shedding season. The smell is very strongly like an alfalfa hay field that was just cut. I felt my sinuses instinctively recoil as that smell usually equals allergies, but I had no physical reaction.

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The fuzz is seriously scary, it looks like white tarantula legs. No I will not google to compare spider fur to tea.

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If you are not familiar with my white tea reviews, I steep white tea pretty aggressively. I used 1 gram to 18ml of vessel size. I used 200F/93c water temperature, with no rinse.

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Tasting of Floating Leaves Tea’s 2017 Spring Silver Needle White Tea

Silver Needle steeps up a tinted cream, yet crystal clear. Pouring hot water gives off strong smells of floral and crisp grass. The hot leaf smells like hot weeds in 95F/35c+ weather.

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First and Second Infusion: Floating Leaves Tea’s Silver Needle is sweet, gentle and soft tea to start. The flavor is syrupy sweet, leading to a fresh vegetal taste. The vegetal reminds me of those aloe chunk drinks, which have a mix of light sweetness, grass, and mystery watery fruit.

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Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: Silver Needle is flavor packed, without any dry or bitterness. The flavor is opening up to a creamy aloe, with a slight lychee sweetness. Some sips taste slightly medicinal, but overall incredibly fresh. The flavor gets strong at end of sip and lasts for a few minutes in the mouth. The body picked up here being melted buttery licky, with a mouth watery feeling left in the mouth.

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What I found interesting here is usually I can taste a stale linen quality in white teas, but this tea is so fresh that it is too new for linen notes.

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Sixth and Seventh Infusion: The final infusions’ flavor slipped fast. The vegetal flavor has gotten cooked, tasting like steamed but still sweet and crisp, asparagus. There is a bit of dryness, but nothing harsh.

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Floating Leaves Tea’s 2017 Spring Silver Needle is epic. This tea is excellent quality for Silver Needle white teas as it is truely fresh, crisp, and sweet in flavor. Fresh Silver Needle is packed with flavor too, this isn’t your boring, flavorless white tea. Don’t let this one fly under the radar with your next order. If you love fresh white teas, you need to check out Floating Leaves Tea’s new Silver Needle. The 2017 Spring Silver Needle is also priced well at $9.50 an ounce, which is pretty awesome considering the quality.

Ice Queen 2007 Spring Bing Dao from Bitterleaf

I took awhile to getting around to drinking Bitterleaf Tea’s Ice Queen 2007 Spring Bing Dao Sheng puer. Every Bing Dao I’ve tried I greatly enjoyed – the sweet flavor tends to ring with my sweet tooth. Liking Bing Dao does not make me happy as it is expensive! Bitterleaf sent me Ice Queen awhile back and since the tea smelled so good, has a $0.83 per gram price tag, so I went into horde mode. Something sparked in me today urging me to drink Ice Queen. That something is dying for a sweet puer as I keep craving Korean honey rice snacks.

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Dry Leaf and Steeping Instructions

Ice queen has an amazing syrupy honey scent.

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I went my typical gongfu cha style of 1 gram of tea per 15ml of vessel size. I used boiling water, and quick infusions of 5-10 seconds to start, adding time as I went.

Tasting of Bitterleaf’s Ice Queen 2007 Spring Bing Dao

First and Second Infusion: Ice Queen tastes like honey spun sugar – it is honey sweet and bright in flavor. The body coats the mouth well. The trip is like eating honey cotton candy and chasing it down with heavy cream. The aftertaste is light right now as I get a bit of sweetness that evaporates to a gentle incense flavor. Wait even longer and I get a bit of apricot aftertaste.

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Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: Ice Queen is starting to lose that honey sweetness, leaving other flavors to take over. What is going on is quite complex as I am getting a mix of amber incense, stone fruit, honey, brass, and slight astringency at the end that breaks the smoothness. The honey in this reminds me a bit of golden flower fu zhuan, but much more high class.

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Sixth and Seventh Infusion: Ice Queen is so smooth and at max flavor. It is quite interesting as the flavor is dancing into too strong territory, yet so smooth it tastes pleasant. The amber flavor is overtaking the other notes, with honey in the background.

Lately, I’ve been quite susceptible to tea inflicted gut rot. I can physically feel this tea is very strong – my stomach is reacting as if I am drinking potent young tea, yet my taste tongue says otherwise. This tea is like reverse pepto-bismal – the heavy creamy body and smooth taste makes it go down well, but my guts know I am drinking aggressive puer.

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Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: The tea drunk slipped in very gradually. I disappeared for a bit after someone telling me a matcha tasted like pond scum, in which I descended into googling “pond scum tea” which I learned pond scum is a food fad. I spent way too much time laughing and almost peeing my tail feathers. Ice Queen tea gives you a sensation of like being a kitten getting grabbed by the scruff of your neck and pulled into the air.  Or if you prefer a horror film reference, Ice Queen’s physical feel is like flipping your hair over your face, hanging your head low, and floating around in your stained white gown.

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Flavor wise Ice Queen isn’t doing well, at least for my tastes. It has gotten quite bitter to drink, yet the aftertaste is honey and brassy. There is a build up of dryness causing me to puff my cheeks and scratch my tongue.

Eleventh and Twelfth Infusion: The eleventh infusion was quite weak, so I went in for the power infusion for the final infusion, so around 20 minutes. It was way too bitter to drink and the smoothness did not save it here.

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Bitterleaf’s Ice Queen 2007 Spring Bing Dao is true to their description of a smooth and honey tea. It has interesting young qualities of being perfectly honey and the heavy smooth body masking harsh notes. The honey notes are excellent, as well as the body, which is what I enjoyed the most from Ice Queen. The energy in this tea is fairly high too – you will have a sugary party time. I think Ice Queen 2007 Spring Bing Dao is a good tea to try if you prefer sweeter puer, or lots of body. It has excellent early infusions, though the late infusions can get a bit harsh. If you prefer younger sheng, Ice Queen would be a fun to try to explore middle aged teas in your tastes.

If you drink enough of a boutique’s tea, you certainly start to get their tastes. Bitterleaf seems to quite like that brassy and sweet creamy profiles. At least that is what I noticed so far, maybe my observations might change with more tea.

(tea provided for review)

2016 Nightlife from White2Tea

White2tea‘s Nightlife is a Yue Guan Bai (aka Moonlight white) Yunnan white tea. Nightlife is apparently a high grade tea, made from a large leaf varietal reserved for sheng puer.

I purchased this tea on a whim. Hey, I like Yueguanbai/Moonlight whites, so I had no issues dropping blind on a 200 gram cake from my dealer White2Tea. I purchased it at release and it smelled really strong funky from the journey, so I let it air a bit before tucking it with my other moonlight cakes. Quickly, 2016 Nightlife sold out. At first, I am not sure why they sold out, as far as I know not many of my tea buddies bought a cake, and the amount of people poking me to review this thing to figure out why it sold out. I spoke with White2Tea he wasn’t expecting Nightlife to be that popular either. Thankfully there is a 2017 Nightlife.

I am being assisted today with two Tea Owls of the Sith.

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This cake is gorgeous!

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Steeping Method: I used boiling water and did a ratio of 1 gram to 17ml.

Tasting of White2tea’s Nightlife

First and Second Infusion: Nightlife steeps up a marigold orange with a strong floral scent. Nightlife’s flavor is floral, fruity, creamy and buttery – like buttercups with a creamsicle made of orange citrus floral of osmanthus. The body is super heavy thick, like drinking a stick of melted butter. I’m drinking this ripping hot, and it feels so thick that it cools the lips. The finish reminds me that this is a white tea as it has a stale, yet new paperback book flavor.

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Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Infusion: Overdrive! The flavor got strong! Nightlife has a concentrated creamy floral, and stale book notes, with a bright floral fruity finish. The aftertaste is a rock sugar sweetness, with my mouth feeling like I am still gnawing on that stick of butter. The later steeps in this bracket have a slight astringency to them, giving a feeling of the tea cleaning your teeth to be squeaky.

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Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Tenth Infusion: Just as you would think this tea should be dying, it is not. The flavor is even stronger! With each steeping, Nightlife got more bright, crisp, and floral. The flavor is a thick bouquet of floral. I am not sure what flower, it is not orange like anymore, more of a meld of floral. The aftertaste is more floral. The dryness has not gotten stronger, still at teeth cleaning level.

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Eleventh, Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Infusion: Finally, Nightlife is slipping, the night is coming to a close. The flavor is getting lighter and dryer, making my mouth feel all cottony weird with my squeaky teeth.

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Fifteenth and Sixteenth Infusion: I spoke too soon, as I am still getting tea out of this. The flavor is soft, but of linen and floral. It is still dry, but also very drinkable.

Moonlight whites… look pretty before steeping, but not so much after.

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White2Tea’s Nightlife has an excellent floral character to it. Nightlife also has an excellent body to it, making for an enjoyable session to drink slow while reading a book. What I enjoy the most about this tea is the body and that combination of fruity floral in the early infusions, it made for a complex Moonlight white. I am interested on how this tea will age, as I have a 2011 Moonlight white that is fantastic and bombproof. I will likely tuck White2tea’s Nightlife away to drink later.

I have heard from a number of people that despite being long time tea drinkers (of even puer) that they still haven’t given white tea a chance, under the assumption it is just flavorless floral slop. This moonlight white has a good strong flavor to it, lots of resteeps, and aging potential. Anyways, this is a tasting of the 2016 Nightlife. The 2017 Nightlife is available.

Will it Gongfu? Red Rose Canada Day Edition

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Red Rose is a tea I drank as a kid growing up in Vancouver Canada. Majority of restaurants and coffee shops in Canada carry Red Rose. Likely many homes have a box of it in the cupboard, along with Canadian Tetley tea. Interestingly, and I have wrote about this before, Canadian boxed tea is prized in the US as it tastes better than the ones made for US drinkers. It appears the Canadian Red Rose tea in particular is a straight Orange Pekoe, vs the weaker blend that the US gets.

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It actually took me visiting four shops in Vancouver to find Red Rose that came in a box with less than 72 bags. I don’t need 72 bags of this stuff, nostalgia be damned. The smallest box I found is 36 bags, which is still a lot of tea considering many tea bags are sold in 12-20 per box. You know this is serious daily drinker crap if most stores carry the bulk box. I also needed authentic Canadian Red Rose tea. This tea looks real due to all the french on the box.

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Heh, they changed the bag. I bet that pissed off all the old people.

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Opening the box, and I can smell the nostalgia. My guts instinctively retreated expecting that bitter tea that I doctored with many sugar packets as a child. We must ask the age old question W I L L  I T  G O N G F U  to see if I can improve the flavor.

Dry Leaf

There is quite a lot of tea in one of these Red Rose bags. Weight check – 3 grams of dust leaf per bag! WOW. This bigger amount of tea is likely a reason why Canadian tea is prized, as I have heard people say they like this one as it is stronger. To put into perspective, most tea bags have 1 gram of tea. Sometimes they have 2 grams. Those “loose leaf” tea bags often come in 3 grams.

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Despite the high tea bag weight, the tea is still dust.

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I did a ratio of 1 gram to 13ml of vessel, steeping with boiling water. This being the 3rd Will It Gongfu of questionable tea bags, I am now experienced in gongfu’ing dust and mud.

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Whoa, Red Rose steeped up cloudy, but that colour is RED. In silver.. VERY RED.

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Will It Gongfu – Canadian Red Rose

First, Second, and Third Infusion: The sip is ultra gag. It is SO PIERCINGLY BITTER that you have to gag the tea down. If you can get past the nasty bad bitter, (and I feel so pro) there are nice cherry wood rich notes and cherry stems. But holy hoot, this is so bitter. I am drinking it in silver and it still tastes like bitter death. Sorry Canada.

The steeping process I found interesting. While steeping Red Rose looked like sand underwater.

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Drained, Red Rose looks like raw, and trying to curdle, butter tart batter.

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Fourth and Fifth Infusion: I am doing the old sip and dump to get to this point. At these final infusion the tea got clear and very beautiful. You would think I was steeping hibiscus or something. The tea lost its nasty death bitter, but the flavor is strange. Red Rose tastes flat, yet clean, but with little body. Notes of cherry wood and bitter bark, with a strong grandma tea concentrate breath. Gongfu Red Rose is oddly drinkable in a masochistic, apologetic, and friendly way.

It is also so darn pretty and red.

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Western Style Canadian Red Rose

There was handy instructions inside the box to steep a bag for 3-5 minutes in boiling water, which I followed.

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Red Rose actually sips in quite smooth, but then gets that typical tea bag taste of stale cardboard, but this has a mix of bitter cherry wood and stale caramel. It tastes close to the last infusions of gongfu with a little bit more bitterness, but I rather have this cup of “blehhhh” tea than prolonging the terrible with 3 infusions of horrible, then 2 “blehhhh” infusions.

I have had worse (cough US Twinnings/Bigelow/Liptons cough) but of course, I can pull 600 teas from my stash that taste better. It is likely in the bottom 10 of worst teas in my stash, beating out fishy ripe puer matcha that I like to show guests to make them hurl.

Canadian Red Rose, Will it Gongfu?

Sorry, no.

20 minutes post Red Rose drinking I got major gut rot. If that sounds good, you can pay a premium on US Amazon for Canadian Red Rose tea despite the 72 pack being $5 back in Vancouver.

(Amazon Affiliate links)

Cusa Tea – Premium Instant Tea Review

I came across Cusa Tea at the World Tea Expo. I was reluctant to try as instant tea is generally not that great, and I’ve had a few run ins with other instant tea sellers who disliked my review as they claimed their tea is better than loose leaf tea (like whaaaat?). I had a sample as was actually pretty impressed with Cusa Tea’s product, which is fast tea for people on the go. What sets Cusa Tea apart from the other instant teas is the material is all USDA organic. They also use a different method to instant their tea by doing some sort of cold brewing vacuum crystallization process without the use of additives. Upon review, it seems all their teas are fully organic except the flavored ones.

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I made all these the same and close to directions – 350ml 200F/93c water to 1 packet. I chose 200F/93c water as that is the water temperature most found at coffee shops will give you. The packet said 350-415ml, I found that I liked Cusa Tea on the stronger side, so 250-300ml had the best flavor. I recommend adding water and tasting as you go to find the right flavor intensity.

Cusa Tea can also be made iced. I was informed that using a bit of hot water first to dissolve the powder, then add cold water and ice.

Tasting of Cusa Tea Premium Instant Tea

Organic English Breakfast Black

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Organic English Breakfast Black leans on the fruity side, but with a smooth, robustly earthy flavor. What I like about the flavor is that it is very smooth and has some depth to it. There is no dry or bitterness, so this is traditional cream and sugar tea tastes fine without extras. I personally would make this tea a little stronger, I think 300ml was most optimal for a strong black.

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Organic Green

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I was in shock as this water temperature was way too hot to be drinking a green tea. My mouth was not prepared! Organic Green was surprisingly not bitter but a little dry. The flavor has a peachy, pea, and lettuce flavor, thus a mix of sweet and savory. I think this green falls short and didn’t capture that fresh bright essence that green tea is.

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Organic Oolong

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This is the tea I sampled at the World Tea Expo. This Organic Oolong is a heavy, nutty, lightly smoky, hairy chested oolong. My guess they used a roasted oolong as the base. It is quite smooth and very robust in flavor. It isn’t too complex as most of the flavor punch is heavy smokey oolong but is a satisfying sip. I quite like roasted oolongs and blacks, so this fills that happy center, steeped instantly.

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I am surprised with this oolong as other instant oolongs tend to be greener or floral. Having a punchy heavy oolong was a good choice, and I recommend those who would normally pick the English Breakfast should get the oolong.

Lemon Black

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Whoa, lemony! Lemon Black tastes like the smooth fruity English Breakfast black with a fresh lemon squeezed in. The finish even has that acid lemon burn and lingering flavor, just like real lemon, very impressive! However, this tea is quite tart, so you really got to love lemon. I would personally add some sort of sweetener to this, which I did in the form of a spoon of clover honey. With honey.. DANG very good! This is way better than any bottled lemon iced tea I’ve had. I had to try it iced and it is even better!

Mango Green

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The smell of Mango Green is amazing – it has a super strong mango scent! The flavor is light on the green tea side – it has that same vegetal pea flavor, but with a strong mango aftertaste. I am talking real mango flavor here too. There is still some dryness and a little tart from mango, but this is quite good and fruity. I think the best application is iced – as it cools it gets sweeter and fruity.

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Cusa Tea is the best instant tea I’ve tried so far. Whatever they have done to make it preserved more of the complexities of the tea and get some excellent smooth, non bitter flavor. I think the best ones are Cusa Tea’s black, oolong, and flavored teas. The darker teas shined for interesting flavor, and the flavoring is incredibly natural. The green tea was the weaker tea as it does lack that freshness, which is hard to get for instant tea. I drank all 5 teas in one session and I can certainly feel that caffeine hit. It is hard to pick a favorite, but I think the Lemon Black and Organic Oolong are strong contenders.

Cusa Tea is tea-on-the-go, purse/backpack emergency stash, office, or travel tea. They don’t claim to take over loose leaf, just have a decent product for quick tea. I can see types who love flavored tea would greatly enjoy the Lemon Black and Mango Green, ignoring ease of making tea. If you are a teabag type, Cusa Tea knocks bags out of the water for flavor and convenience. Cusa Tea also offer a variety pack to try all the flavors.

(tea provided for review | Amazon Affiliate links)


May 2017 White2Tea Club feat. Fresh Lincang

Ooooh, finally it is 2017 tea time! May 2017 White2Tea club is Lincang Fresh Green and Puer Maocha. Both teas are the same material and farmer, but processed differently.

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As much as I wanted to drink these side by side, rolling two different temperatures would of drive me crazy. I own two kettles, but that also requires me to clear room in my cluttered tea space.

2017 Lincang Fresh Green Tea

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I went low temperature rocking 175F/79c, going high on leaf for a green – 1 gram for 15ml vessel size. The hot leaf smells quite fruity, like chewing gum. The owls caught me huffing it.

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First and Second Infusion: I notice the texture of this tea right away, it is like melted butter. The notes are creamy undercooked crisp vegetables, a blur of various vegetables similar to eating a mouthful of that classic corn/pea/carrot/bean frozen mix. There is a slight peachy sweetness, but overall this is quite a beany tea. The second infusion is a touch crisper. Oddly, the silver cup gave a slight caramel note due to the increased brightness. Slight tingle in the tongue after this round.

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Third and Fourth Infusion: The flavor got more corn and carroty. It is certainly getting overcooked now as I now have mushy carrot. I got a sinking bitterness from the green, weighing down the tea and making me feel like I’m sinking and want to curl into a ball.

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At that point I finally learned something about myself. I discovered why I’m not big into green tea as I get that “downer” body feel which I don’t seem to like.

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2017 Lincang Fresh Puer Maocha

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I went with 1 gram per 15ml, using 200F/93c water temperature. The hot leaf smells savory, just like boiled lettuce. The scent brings memories/terror of my dad’s legally blind cooking.

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First and Second Infusion: Interesting notes here. Kind of tastes like celery, but has that creamy melted butter body similar to the green. The flavor is more distinct and savory, celery, a little marine. It kind of tastes like celery sushi roll. The body feel is weighty, but uplifting.

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Third, Fourth, and Fifth Infusion: Flavor is now tasting like puer. The body is still heavy and silky, the notes are coppery mineral, savory, with a sweet vegetal finish and some random floral notes. There is some good bitterness at the end of sip that is refreshing and satisfying. Other sips the aftertaste is savory and low. Tastes like eating a frantic piled salad buffet plate and sushi rice off a sizzling hot iron pan. This tea is a roller coaster of body feel.

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Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Infusion: The sixth had a terrible middle steep weirdo floral citrus note. Seventh and Eighth chilled out into a mellow, cream, savory bayleaf herby bitterness with a sweet slightly floral finish. Odd sip, combined with the build up of astringency, gives me a hint of amber incense wisps of an aftertaste. Also I am feeling blasted and began to drink out of the cha hai as I felt cups were too slow.

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Ninth and Tenth Infusion: The flavor faded fast here, I got some  tangy bitter metallic notes with plenty of dryness. Then I got that young lincang body feel like I got a giant rock in my gut, like I went a little too hog wild at the salad bar buffet. The owls and I are now laying in a chair, holding our tummies and burping. I am feeling good, so I regret nothing.

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This lincang is in White2Tea’s new charity cake. Part of me thinks I should get one so these kids will get glasses, who will grow up to see and not accidentally feed their poor kid boiled lettuce instead of cabbage rolls.

By the way, drinking both of these teas in the same day was a bad idea, more so having the Maocha at 3pm. I did not sleep at all. I was completed juiced up in the evening, read an entire Star Wars novel, then it was 4am and I had to find something else to do. Fresh teas have A LOT OF CAFFEINE and I thought I would be fine since I used a smaller gaiwan for the maocha.

2017 World Tea Expo Trends and Thoughts – Oolong Owl Hooty Tea Travels


| Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Haul |

What was trending at the 2017 World Tea Expo?

Lots of Korean Tea – The most common question I was asked was “I got X-amount-of-time, what do I need to check out that stands out this year?”

My answer every time was “Korean Tea!” There was so much Korean Tea this year, at least 7 booths! Previous years there was only one or two Korean tea booths and they mostly carried traditional medicine stuff. I’ve been busting my butt trying to get Korean tea for years, but so much of it doesn’t leave Korea.

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This year was the year to try Korean Sejak greens, black teas, fermented teas, along with impressive herbals with pumpkin and yuzu. Each main growing area was represented, and they came with other treats like Korean matcha chocolates, jams, and spreads to get you sampling. Most brewed their tea on demand in a gaiwan. Almost all the vendors were selling their display stock. What did not change was the prices were quite high, but they could get away with it as where else am I going to get it?

Purple Tea – Purple tea, whether it was from Kenya or Yunnan, was pushed hard this year. Some were calling it a brand new tea type, whereas some was saying it is just regular old green tea with purple colour. I asked each one why theirs was different and answers were mixed of different cultivar or ours is more purple. What I didn’t get was there was purple tea last year, but this year it was marketed hard, especially with buzz words of antioxidants. I reviewed some recently and wasn’t impressed as it is very dry. I personally think it is a hard sell due to taste and some experimentation is needed.

More Tea Tech – 2016 was full of Tea Tech, so lots of devices to make tea easy and fast without having to learn about tea. 2017 continues with vendors believing people want tech gadgets to make tea easier. There were plenty of tea making machines with apps (home and commercial use), machines that do pods for both tea and coffee, and teas packaged into pods.

What I liked this year was seeing the new tea kettle tech. There were more sellers who put variable temperature on their kettles (Brewista/Gourmia) so I got options outside Bonavita/Zojirushi/other big brands. Many with cool features with the tea person in mind like preset temperatures, flash boil, pour timer, keep hot, travel sizes, built in filter baskets, glass, and goosenecks.

White Tea isn’t trendy – To my dismay, there was very little white tea this year. One whole seller had some great looking 2017 white teas, but the usual Silver Needle and Shou Mei. Nepali Tea Traders was the only seller who had an interesting collection of white teas I found- Jade Spring White & Rara Willow White. There was a couple white tea blends, but overall white tea was greatly underrepresented this year. There was some aged white tea at World Tea Expo 2016, but none this year. In my tea career, I seen white tea go in and out of trend multiple times that it is a strange phenomenon.

Oolong Owl Thoughts

Here are things I noticed at the World Tea Expo that are a mix of my own rantings and personal opinion.

Conflict of Traditional vs Convenience Teas – This year was odd as there was about the same number of tea tech and some new instant tea sellers, but the vibe felt different. Last year tea tech people were saying this was going to replace how we make tea. Instant tea sellers said their powder was as good as loose leaf. This year I spoke with the instant tea sellers, and majority of them were clear in saying they wanted their product as the quick fix of tea, not competing with the good stuff. I talked with one seller who was doing the fancy tea pod machines and they were annoyed that the machine wasn’t doing well today as people pointed to the gaiwan on display and wanted traditional tea.

There were still tea tech pushers, but with the reaction I am wondering if the fad is dying or the bad rap (cough Jucerio cough) made people realize tea isn’t that hard and you don’t need a $$$$$ for home brewing.

Light Tea – I found almost all vendors (except Old Taiwan Tea and LongRun puer, who made their tea powerful enough to kick in your teeth) brewed their tea super light. I watched someone do a gongfu session in a 120ml gaiwan with barely a few grams of tea (volume wise looking like a 1/4 teaspoon). I personally found it frustrating as I found it hard to assess the teas. One session was very frustrating as I purchased the tea last year and wanted to see the difference with the 2017 harvest, but it was made so light it didn’t taste the same. Many sellers told me they make it light as they worry about new tea drinkers not liking it. However, I think if the tea is made too light, new tea drinkers won’t be able to taste it!

Hectic AF – Every year I find the World Tea Expo more crazy. The last 3 years I managed to stop at every booth, try their tea, and chat. Seeing every booth did not happen this year. I made a list of who I wanted to see and got through it. I completely avoided the Japanese green tea and Darjeeling areas as those are teas I generally don’t write about or drink myself, only hitting the matcha people.

One big factor was there really wasn’t many bloggers this year. With the usual big tea blogger clique not in attendance, I was one of the few tea review bloggers in the house. Most in attendance were more of the story/life/news tea writers. My social media and email was lit with requests to meet, some weird as they didn’t say what company they were from. Vendors were pretty in tune to looking for the orange press badge and waving me down even on Day 1. Day 3 was the most crazy once I got past their first hour (as everyone was slow to arrive and be ready) with people stationed everywhere with flyers and even more waving down.

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What, you drink this? – A common question a vendor will ask at the World Tea Expo is “What do you like to drink?” I say oolong and puer, then I point to their puer and ask to try it. I might get to try it, often ones who sold various things didn’t have it for sample and gave me green tea instead. Bleh. It made it sound like I was some bratty owl pulling their leg to try something weird they know I will dislike. At least this year was the first me saying “I like Puer” was followed up with, “Oh it is great for losing weight, has it been working well for you.” Yeah NO.

A number of times vendors could not answer my questions which I found frustrating. They were not expecting some crazy gal with a stuffed owl to ask “Where in Yunnan is your puer from?”, “When was this harvested?”, “Where was your tea stored?”. The most cringe moment was trying an excellent puer at a competition tasting and they couldn’t tell me anything other than it was puer and from Yunnan. No year, no region. As a tea writer this lack of information is tough – I can’t write about it if you got no info on it. I am happy with the answer, “Found in a corner of a warehouse,” or “A trade secret blend of material made to be sweet.” as at least I know as much as they do. As a consumer interacting with a new tea seller I want to know what the hell I am drinking and expect some sort of knowledge of their products. I understand if there is a language barrier, but all these omission answers seemed as if the vendor didn’t take the time to learn about their product or think my question mattered.

That said, I hope you tea sellers are reading this – thanks to the internet many of us North American tea drinkers know our stuff and you need to be prepared for it. Other puer sellers who were happy to answer questions were very pleased at how excited we were to learn, or how we understood their tea already. Those sellers got written about and my cash.